Four Loko is an alcoholic beverage that is part energy drink. The “Four” in the name “Four Loko” refers to the four main ingredients in Four Loko, namely alcohol, caffeine, taurine, and guarana. In 2010, the company that manufactures Four Loko, announced that the drink would be reformulated, removing the caffeine, taurine, and guarana, in response to the drink being banned in several states and an FDA directive.
What is the danger of Four Loko?
The Food and Drug Administration launched a year-long investigation into caffeine-containing alcoholic beverages like Four Loko. At its completion, the FDA determined that Four Loko, and seven other drinks were “unsafe.” They gave the manufacturers fifteen days to change the formula or pull their products from the market.
The investigation into Four Loko began after being involved in a rash of incidents in months in which people were hospitalized or died. Doctors say that caffeine-containing drinks like Four Loco mask the effects of alcohol, leading people to drink more than they normally would.
What is blacking out?
Drinkers of Four Loko have nicknamed the drink “blackout in can,” because of the frequency of overindulgence with caffeinated alcoholic drinks. Four Loco produces a “wide-awake drunk,” so drinkers continue to drink when they would have normally passed out. Then the effects of the caffeine and other stimulants wear off before the effects of the alcohol, producing a blackout.
Binge drinking alcohol can cause memory loss similar to amnesia. These periods of alcohol-related amnesia are generally referred to as blackouts. Blackouts are periods of time when the drinker is completely conscious, having conversations and performing sometimes amazing feats, but later they have absolutely no memory of the events that transpired.
Though repeated episodes of blacking out will lead to permanent changes in the brain, blackouts are more psychosocially damaging than physically damaging. Many people report engaging in high-risk behavior during a blackout. They drive while intoxicated, get into fights, or engage in unprotected sex. During a blackout, normal restraint of emotions, impulses, and desires is impaired and that may result in enormous harm to self and others. Blackouts inhibit your ability to control your impulses. This can be very dangerous.
How much alcohol does a can of Four Loko contain?
Four Loko (before it was reformulated) contained 12 percent alcohol and have something in the range of 200mg of caffeine. This is equivalent to five or six beers and four or five colas in one can. An averaged sized woman who drinks one can of Four Loko will have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) twice the legal limit. Four Loko’s have kept the alcohol content, but removed all the stimulants.
Some criticize the brightly colored packaging and sweet flavor of Four Loko because they claim that its marketing is geared towards underage consumers. The drink is also relatively cheap, and available at most convenience stores. The manufacturers of Four Loko deny that they are trying to market to underage drinkers, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the drink is most popular among kids in their teens and early twenties.